Auburn University:
STEM Enrichment in Physics, Mathematics, and Project Based Learning: Meeting K-12 Needs in Alabamaid="Auburn"

We propose a comprehensive series of professional development (PD) activities for K-12 teachers to address the serious needs, particularly in high-needs school districts, for enhanced curriculum materials and training in Physics, Mathematics, and Project-Based Learning.  We will provide this PD along three different fronts utilizing expertise from Auburn faculty and staff while coordinating directly with both Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) personnel, including the AU directors of both units. 

The three efforts below are all linked to development of a career-ready workforce by partnering with K-12 institutions through both AMSTI and ASIM.  We will implement 120+ hours/teacher PD for 1) teachers in grades 3-5, targeting the student group that feeds the two categories below in mathematics and experiential science activities 2) mathematics teachers in grades 6-12, addressing directly the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (ACCRS), and 3) high school physics teachers through curricular content and pedagogy development introducing successful flipped classroom model. In total, we anticipate partnering with ~225 teachers and impacting ~20,000 students throughout the three year funding period.

Grade 3-5 Math and Science PD: In order to expand on the work done by the TEAM-Math and AMSTI-AU partnership and expand on work begun by an AMSTI Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) grant we propose to provide summer training using the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP) formative assessment system in conjunction with PLCs that meet during the school year in grades 3-5, that will help build teachers’ use of formative assessment in these areas. Tied to this math training will be a science counterpart that we propose, by using robotics project based learning as a vehicle to teach both math and science.  Participating in this effort will be the same AU team that performed the robotics project based learning throughout the state over the last three years of MSP funding.

Grade 6-12 Mathematics PD: We propose to combine intensive work in increasing secondary mathematics teachers’ knowledge with the development of PLC’s extending across the region to help operationalize that knowledge. To accomplish this goal, we will offer intensive one-week summer academies with quarterly follow-up meetings to be held on a schools day, focusing on developing teachers’ mathematical content and pedagogical knowledge, events that will foster the development of region-wide PLC’s in which teachers explore common problems of practice. An on-line platform will enable the teachers to continue this exploration in between face-to-face events, including both asynchronous “discussion forums” and synchronous, real-time chats.

High School Physics PD:  To address the clear shortage of well-prepared physics teachers throughout the state of Alabama, both in physics content as well as current pedagogical models, we will host an intense summer workshop to provide teachers with materials and support for “flipped” style classrooms, where students engage material in a substantive way before ever attending class.  AU-Physics faculty will use their experience with flipped classroom development for AU-undergraduates to provide materials and techniques to high school physics teachers.  In addition we will coordinate development of online tools and virtual PD for teachers to participate in the PLC throughout the academic year.  

Auburn University Montgomery:
Bridging the Gap with Citizen Science

Our goal is to give Macon Co. and Montgomery Public teachers the tools to develop students into citizen scientists and empower them with the scientific literacy to understand and interpret the world around them. We propose project based learning (PBL) modules that build on AMSTI/ASIM curriculum and kits to allow students to measure aspects of the environment surrounding their school. Making science local makes science relevant to students. Data collected from PBL modules will be used as a tool to supplement teaching the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics (CCRS-M). Using quantitative data the students collect makes math meaningful. We hope to get students excited about the science and by extension the math curriculum. We have identified 6 project themes that K-12 students can work on in their school yards: Vertebrates, Invertebrates, Trees, Flowering Plants, Weather, and the Physical World. The projects were chosen to align with core standards (current and upcoming, depending on need) identified in the Alabama Science Course of Study (Science COS). Due to the way the standards for science are structured, key components are repeated numerous time throughout a student’s career, each time at greater depth than before. Students will have the opportunity to revisit each project multiple times as they progress through the grade bands. This provides repetition of skills and concepts reinforced by hands-on learning. Moreover, because the learning is centered in their school yard, students can relate much more deeply, rather than learning the facts about an unrelatable example. Additionally, the curriculum is structured to scaffold, from one component of the project (the PBL module), to the next. Ideally each student will work on a PBL module multiple times during a school year and different components, or modules, of a project at least 3 times in their academic career. Teachers and students will collect grade and standard appropriate measurements multiple times a year in and around their school for the PBL module. All of the data for the school will be collected and stored. At the end of the year, classes will have a set of data that describes how their part of the world is changing (e.g. trees or flowers over seasons). All of the classes contributing to the project will have a data set that describes their local environment for that school year.

            Middle and high school students will use computer software to create databases and ask questions about populations and interactions between data sets. Upper-class students can create computer models, learn basic statistics, and understand the scientific process. Additionally middle and high school teachers will be trained to assist their students with creating and maintaining a website dedicated to the school’s projects. All the data and web pages will be hosted by AUM, allowing schools to compare their data.

            Our success depends on involvement from multiple teachers within a school. In year one, we will identify 2-3 teacher-leaders at each cooperating school or school system, for a total of 25 teachers. These leaders will be trained (60 hours) in conjunction with Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) chemistry and biology specialists. In year two, our leaders will help select the next cohort of 25 teachers from their schools to build research teams. These teams will be essential learning communities that will contribute to the success and sustainability of the project. Leaders will be tasked with training these teachers as part of Professional Learning Communities at their school. Cohort 1 teachers will work with STEM faculty to provide 60 hours of training to cohort 2, while continuing their second 60 hours of training. This model will be repeated for cohort 3 (up to 30 teachers). We hope that cohort 3 will represent all remaining teachers at each school.

Jacksonville State University:
Jacksonville State University's MSP Grant Program - AMSTI

The primary purpose of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative at JSU is to raise student achievement by providing instructional support that builds capacity in AMSTI schools and fosters sustainability at the school level.

The goals of this project are to 1) expand math and science professional development (PD) opportunities and instructional support services provided by AMSTI/ASIM JSU within the JSU In-Service Region, plan and assist AMSTI/ASIM in order to provide support services for teachers by partnering with AMSTI/ASIM in on-site instructional assistance;  2) provide a strong collaboration and instructional involvement between colleges/ departments of education and with individuals from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty; bring teachers of math and science together with scientists, mathematicians and engineers;  3) partner with AMSTI/ASIM to plan, develop and deliver PD in a variety of formats;  4) assist the teachers by providing hands-on, activity- based mathematics and science instruction strongly aligned to state and national standards;  5) improve the instruction of mathematics and science at the university level so that grades K-12 classroom teachers are provided experiences with hands –on, activity-based instruction as part of their pre-service educational experience.

These goals will be accomplished by providing PD that has meaningful math and science content, incorporates technology and models research-based instructional strategies.  AMSTI JSU will collaborate with school personnel to recruit cohorts of teachers (250 each year) to participate in at least two years of 60 hours of meaningful mathematics and/or science professional learning each year, and determine specific mathematics and science instructional needs and develop a framework for addressing these needs through PLCs , and/or PD designed to improve and sustain instructional skills and foster institutional change within Grades K-12 to ensure sustainability of the educational innovations through the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); AMSTI JSU will provide hands-on, activity-based mathematics and science instruction that is strongly aligned to state and national standards and AMSTI/ASIM.  At least 20,000 students will be impacted by the project and will be exposed to STEM career opportunities.  The math PD will focus on implementing strategies from Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP).  AMSTI JSU will provide teachers an opportunity to engage with science content in a motivating real world way and introduce teachers to engineering through Engineering the Future PD in order to bridge the gap between the abstract knowledge of science and mathematics and the critical real world problems.  AMSTI/ASIM/ JSU will provide science teachers PD opportunities to increase their content knowledge in engineering, science and technology and to excite interest in STEM careers in the traditionally impoverished east central Appalachian region of Alabama.  Our mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and math through participation in a sports-like science- and engineering- based robotics competition.  Student interns from JSU’s Technology and Engineering Department will be paired with teachers as the students learn about building robots.

Troy University:
Growing Local Math and Science Leaders

The primary purpose of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) at Troy University is to raise teacher content knowledge, student achievement and interest in math and science, and connect STEM and College of Education faculty to MSP teachers by providing instructional support that builds capacity and fosters sustainability in both AMSTI and non-AMSTI schools.  

The goals of this project are:

  • To expand math and science professional development (PD) opportunities and instructional support services for MSP teachers of grades 4 – 7.  Professional opportunities provided will model effective teaching strategies grounded in research.  This will improve content knowledge and instructional skills of teachers, and ultimately increase student achievement. 
  • To foster collaboration between Troy University STEM faculty, MSP teachers, and other STEM stakeholder groups that will provide opportunities to increase teacher and student content knowledge in STEM areas and inspire students to pursue STEM careers
  • To expand content deepening of math and science teachers including integration of technology into curricula and instruction

These goals will be accomplished by providing PD that has meaningful math and science content, incorporating technology, and modeling research-based instructional strategies. AMSTI- Troy will collaborate with school personnel to determine specific instructional needs and develop a framework to address those needs through mentoring, coaching, and developing content- specific Professional Learning Teams and/or providing PD designed to improve and sustain instructional skills, and school based Professional Learning Teams.  AMSTI-Troy will use a variety of delivery methods, including webcasts, blogs, and face-to-face sessions for STEM faculty, community members in STEM positions, and 350 math and science teachers (200 teachers in cohort 1, 150 teachers in cohort 2) in Grades 4-7.  These math and science teachers will complete a minimum of 60 hours of PD each year.    Through these delivery methods, math and science teachers will be provided with PD opportunities to deepen their content knowledge and refine their instructional skills in engineering, science, technology, and ways to excite student interest in STEM careers.  AMSTI-Troy will provide math PD experiences in effective teaching strategies and opportunities to read and study current research. The math PD will focus on implementing strategies from the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP) in both multiplicative and fractional reasoning sessions.  The science PD will focus on Engineering is Elementary (EiE) training in grade level specific kits.  Our overall mission is to strengthen knowledge of teachers and students, and inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and math. 

The University of Alabama:
Differentiating Mathematics Instruction Within Communities of Learners

The UA MSP seeks to reduce the achievement gap between special education students and general education students by working with teams of teachers committed to implementing differentiated mathematics instruction through collaborative teaching. Each team of teachers will include at least one special education teacher and one general education teacher and will work through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous professional development activities within grade band professional learning groups to achieve the project goals within the framework of the professional development components.

Project Goals

  • Increase mathematical knowledge for teaching of K-12 participating teachers.
  •  Improve implementation of critical thinking skills of ALL students as defined by the Standards for Mathematical Practice.
  •  Increasing mathematics achievement of all students while decreasing the achievement gap of special education students.
  • Develop a culture of collaboration among teachers and leaders within schools
  • Develop communities of learners in mathematics classrooms with shared responsibilities and authority between the teachers and the students.

Professional Development Components

  • Teachers use self-assessment and external-assessment of their instructional skill and classroom practices including mathematics content-area skills.
  • Teachers evaluate the curriculum, organizing and prioritizing standards from the Alabama Course of Study in mathematics.
  • Teachers assess and analyze existing students’ curricular skills to get a foundational understanding for the needs of the students.
  • Teachers use the student-level data to create effective, flexible lessons with high quality teaching practices.
  • Teachers continue to collect and analyze student data to determine lesson and unit mastery across all students.
  • Instructional partners and/or principals will work to lead teacher collaboration and differentiated instruction in their schools.

University of Montevallo:
Developing Local Science Leaders

We live an era of change where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) continually push boundaries to modernize business and industry, but there is an increasing lack of preparedness in the education of Alabama’s students to meet the rigorous academic demands required for these occupations. In fact, evidence points to a significant and widening gap throughout our nation to provide a STEM-capable workforce (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), 2010).  In addition to just knowing the facts and concepts of science, the goal of classroom instruction is now stated in terms of students becoming “proficient” in science. As described by the National Research Council, to be considered “fully proficient in science” students must be able to (1) know, use, and interpret scientific explanations; (2) generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations; (3) understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge; and (4) participate productively in scientific practices and discourse (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007). Science proficiency, the new goal of K–12 science education, involves more than an understanding of important concepts; it centers on being able to do science.

Due the evidence pointing to a lack of STEM readiness and student proficiency in doing science, this is a prime opportunity to revitalize teaching and learning for an advancing society. Our vision of this plan, aligned with recommendations from the CoSTEM (2013) and National Research Council (2005), combines academic instruction and engaging experiences that will prepare and inspire sustainable change in Alabama’s K-12 science teachers, as well as prepare their students for future STEM pursuits.

This proposed plan will be accomplished through a cohort model in which small groups of elementary, middle and high school teachers from surrounding school systems will participate in STEM courses over a 2-year cycle as well as STEM-based training/learning experiences.  A similar cohort model of high school teachers will participate in training/learning experiences surrounding the Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) model of Sampson and colleagues (2009; 2011).  All teachers will participate in a minimum of 120 hours of professional learning.

For two consecutive years, approximately 50-60 elementary, middle and high school and middle school teachers will participate in the two semester-long STEM learning experiences while forming collaborative and supportive networks of STEM teacher leaders.  During the third year of this plan, after both cohorts have completed the STEM-based professional learning experiences, teachers will participate in professional learning communities while serving as model STEM teachers for Alabama and support the CoSTEM (2013) and PCAST (2010) recommendation for developing a corps of master teachers who actively promote and provide STEM education.

Similarly, approximately 40 high school teachers will participate in the ADI activities to form collaborative and supportive networks which promote their pedagogy toward teaching science through the ADI model.  The first grant year will involve only the first cohort.  The second grant year will involve both cohorts in an interactive approach, with the first cohort completing all activities by the end of the year.  The second cohort will complete its second year of activities/implementation during the third grant year.

University of North Alabama:
CPR2: Collaborative Partnership to teach mathematical Reasoning through Computer Programming

CPR2 is designed to impact STEM education throughout Alabama. As colleagues in a Math/CS Department, we found that many of our undergraduates were not able to participate successfully in the full range of our STEM course offerings. For this reason, we developed a strategy for explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning.  Upon further investigation, we found that colleagues in area secondary schools shared similar needs, including the need for proficiency in Standards of Mathematical Practice as defined by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS).  In particular, our secondary school colleagues needed explicit instructional techniques for students who had difficulty making sense of problems, reasoning abstractly and quantifying a solution, constructing viable arguments, modeling using mathematics, and finding and quantifying the structure and regularity in a posed problem.  We have partnered with AMSTI to offer instruction that addresses these essential skills. Our program offers a method for explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning and our collaboration with AMSTI provides the organizational framework to disseminate it statewide.

Our instructional design is grounded in a theory of mathematical learning that uses computer programming to induce students to build the mental frameworks needed for a wide range of advanced math concepts.  This theory has been tested and proven effective in mathematical conceptual development in numerous research studies spread over several continents.  Our team has applied this theory to develop explicit instruction in mathematical reasoning, specifically generalization and abstraction.

We have applied our Instructional Treatment (IT) in professional learning sessions (PLS) with 4th – 12th grade math teachers and regional specialists, in middle and high school math classes, in pre-service methods courses, and in math and computer science undergraduate classes.  Our research has shown that this is an effective delivery system for instruction in mathematical reasoning and that it can be applied successfully to the classroom. Accordingly, we have incorporated the IT into our Math Methods course for pre-service secondary teachers.

The proposed three year effort builds on our previous work and increases the impact by including PLS for upper elementary teachers. It capitalizes on an existing collaborative partnership between math/CS faculty, middle and high school math teachers who have applied the IT in their classroom, and AMSTI-UNA. This group of highly motivated, skilled, and like-minded professionals will lead PLS that apply the CPR2 IT with thirty 4th – 12th grade teachers each year. New teachers will be randomly assigned to control or experimental groups for the initial PLS. Each year, new teachers will be added, and part of this new cohort will come from AMSTI-UNA Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP) trained 4th-6th grade teachers. Accordingly, CPR2 will provide support for OGAP training of AMSTI teachers each year.

In this three year program, the intrinsic, self-replicating structure of the program plan will form cohesive learning communities (LC) with 4th – 12th grade math teachers and IHE STEM faculty mentors. Collaborative efforts of CPR2 LC will improve the mathematical reasoning and sense making skills of over 14,000 Alabama high school students.

University of South Alabama:
AMSTI-Focus on Middle School Mathematics Teachers' Program

AMSTI-Focus on Middle School Mathematics Teachers Program is a collaboration between the University of South Alabama (USA) Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences through its Center for Integrative Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CISSTEM), and the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). The program will serve middle school math teachers who are in the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS), the Chickasaw Public School System, and the Saraland City School System.

The professional development program will be designed to take place over a three-year period and will achieve the following goals and projected outcomes:

  • Deepen the mathematical content knowledge of participating middle school math teachers as measured by standardized assessments,
  • Increase student achievement in mathematics by adhering to the increased rigor of the College and Career Ready Standards as measured by standardized tests,
  • Provide coaching and support for middle school teachers to improve instructional performance,
  • Build a community of learners around mathematics by increasing the connections between math teachers at the same grade level by providing them with an environment where they can collaborate, share experiences and expertise, and inspire one another, and;
  • Create a sustainable model for mathematics teachers that uses scientifically based research and best practices that can remain in place after funding has ended.

The professional development model will be hands-on, inquiry-centered, cooperative, and will involve authentic assessment just like the AMSTI program itself. The AMSTI-Focus on Middle School Mathematics Program will be designed to emphasize content and process. Improving teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge will improve their instruction and their student achievement results. Math professors, math education professors, and seasoned math teachers themselves will team to provide middle school math teachers with the additional content and pedagogical knowledge needed to enhance their effectiveness in the classroom. Academic year professional development followed by an intense summer professional development will provide participants of this project with a wide spectrum of inquiry-based teaching strategies proven to be particularly effective with disadvantaged students, especially poor and minority students attending hard to staff schools.